In the Beginning
The DPA was founded in 1978 by a group of six Dallas-based independent producers.
The goals of the DPA have withstood the test of
time and are as valuable today as they were three decades
- to promote the membership throughout our industry and to organizations of companies which use our services.
- to advocate for our members in legal, business and political forums affecting our livelihood.
- to deliver on-going professional development to our members as producers, businesspeople and citizens.
- to build a network of resources and foster friendly competition.
Historically, the DPA has been an organization for the benefit of independent producers. Over the years, its membership has expanded to include facility providers, equipment rental companies, talent, writers and other producer service providers. In today’s DPA, producers and service providers work together to promote the welfare of the DFW film and video community and exchange a wide range of ideas and information. DPA has a history of championing the rights of independent producers against unfair legislation and unfair labor practices and serves as a legal “watchdog” for producer interests. It has had four high-water marks in its history of promoting fair play in our working community and has always provided a great service to its members.
1980-1983 State Sales Tax Issue
In 1980, State legislators wanted to impose a sales tax on all film and video production. The DPA opposed this on the grounds that production companies should not be responsible for charging and collecting tax because sales tax is collected when film and video products are sold commercially. In 1980 and 1981, delegates from the DPA met with representatives from the State Comptroller’s office to protest the imposition of a sales tax on producers but failed to convince the Comptroller’s Office of the merits of their position. Undaunted, in 1983, the DPA led a delegation of industry representatives from Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio and again approached the State Comptroller’s Office. This action was undertaken in conjunction with the Director of the Texas Film Commission, who served as a liaison between the film and video industry and the Comptroller’s office.
The State Comptroller’s office asked the DPA to reword Rule 3.35 regarding sales tax for the film and video industry to more accurately reflect the role of the production company in the production process. The State Legislature approved the DPA’s revised working and ended potential double taxation. Producers were kept exempt from sales tax associated with production, on the grounds that they are not manufacturers and do not sell their products. The DPA was the sole champion on this issue.
1986-1987 SAG/AFTRA Rule 1
In 1986 and 1987, the national governing bodies of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) decided to enforce Rule 1 which had previously been ignored by local talent agents. Rule 1 stated that when using union talent, a producer had to be a signatory and use union talent exclusively on any given production. A signatory is a hiring entity, such as a production company, that contracts for labor conforming to union terms, such as compensation, work hours, expenses, pension and welfare. The DPA opposed the enforcement of Rule 1 by sponsoring non-union talent showcases, recording them and distributing them to members. The goals were to provide non-union actors with an opportunity to present their capabilities to production companies.
DPA members also engaged in a series of informal meetings with representatives from the local unions and helped negotiate a constructive compromise, which benefited all parities concerned. Producers are now permitted to sign limited signatory agreements and mix union with non-union talent as long as both are paid scale rates. SAG/AFTRA also agreed to make union talent available at scale day rates.
1991 Contract Labor vs. Employee Status
In 1991, the IRS pursued Texas Pacific Film and Video in Austin for $300,000 in back taxes they claimed were owed in FICA and other withholding taxes for freelance labor hired by the company. The DPA opposed the interpretation of the law maintaining that freelancers were independent business people responsible for their own promotion, tax payment, etc. and not under any obligation to work for a given producer. The DPA rallied support for the audited company by circulating a petition among its members. While this issue was never solved conclusively, its threat has been reduced. DPA members continue to regard freelancers as contract labor.
2006 The Texas Motion Picture Alliance
Early in 2006, it was an established fact that the state of Texas was losing out on far too many production opportunities and the attendant revenue because of financial incentives being offered to producers to bring work to other states. The Legislative Committee of the DPA recognized the urgent need to remedy this situation and sprang into action. In a relatively short period of time, consisting of intense planning activity, meetings with members of the state legislature, past and present, while working closely with the office of the State Film Commission, the underpinnings of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance were established.
In June of that same year, approximately 160 professionals, representing every facet of the moving image industry from all over Texas, gathered in an auditorium in the state capitol building in Austin and the Texas Motion Picture Alliance was born. The Dallas Producers Association not only was instrumental in creating the Alliance, but many of its members actively served as officers and board members of the newly established organization. That fact remains to this day.
The upshot of this is that there are meaningful production incentives in place not only for out-of state producers but equally important and beneficial for producers within the entire state of Texas. Again, a shining example of how the Dallas Producers Association serves as the leader in providing for and protecting the interests of independent producers and associated businesses of the production industry.